The law should be changed so crimes against the elderly are treated as seriously as offences with racial or homophobic motives.
That’s the call from charity Action on Elder Abuse, which wants the abuse of senior citizens recognised as an aggravated offence.
That would lead to statutory minimum sentences, meaning defendants would be more likely to be sent to prison and could expect to receive longer jail terms.
The charity says the abuse of old people has gone on for too long.
Chief Executive Gary FitzGerald said: “The Criminal Justice system is failing to protect older victims of abuse and neglect.
“Most cases are never prosecuted – and many should be – and police cautions are used as a cheap and easy way of avoiding the time and cost of prosecution. And even when cases are taken to court the result is invariably a suspended or deferred sentence or community service.
“When is this going to end?”
Research from Action on Elder Abuse found that an estimated 413,500 people aged 65 or over in England and Wales experience some form of abuse each year. However, there were only 3,012 successful criminal convictions in 2015/16 – the equivalent to just 0.7% of total prevalence.
This is a lower proportion than for racially motivated crimes (10.3%), homophobic and transphobic crimes (4.2%), domestic abuse (3.8%) and disability hate crime (1%).
“Theft does not kill younger victims, but it can kill older ones because trauma has a negative effect on the immune system of older people,” said Mr FitzGerald.
“Similarly physical or sexual abuse, while traumatic and devastating at any age, have a more extreme effect on an older person. If we accept the argument for aggravated offences for racially and religiously motivated crimes, why not for our older people?”
Earlier this year, figures revealed that more than 23,000 allegations of abuse had been made against home carers in the UK in the last three years – but only 15 people were prosecuted.
You can sign Action on Elder Abuse’s petition here.
How can Gotelee help?
Discovering that a parent or elderly loved one has suffered abuse is extremely distressing, especially if the professionals entrusted with their care are responsible.
Abuse can be emotional, physical or even financial. It can be deliberate or as a result of someone in a position of trust failing to provide necessary care.
Elderly abuse can often go unnoticed, with victims feeling too ashamed or scared to speak out.
Our solicitors have great experience and success of representing victims of elder abuse. We offer an understanding and empathetic local service from our offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton.
To find out more, contact us on 01473 298159 or email [email protected]